Alliance Infrastructure spokesperson Andrew Muir MLA has highlighted the need for urgent action on wastewater and sewerage capacity in Northern Ireland, describing the current situation as “reaching crisis point”.
Mr Muir was speaking after the Assembly backed a motion calling on the Minister for Infrastructure to bring forward a new strategy to enhance and expand NI’s water and sewerage infrastructure and to end regional inequalities.
Following the debate, Mr Muir said: “The current governance model for NI Water combined with restrictions on commercial borrowing is unsustainable. We are all aware of funding issues with NI Water and the problems that this brings for Northern Ireland, if we don’t act now on the issue NI is going to face further restrictions on economic growth and damage to the natural environment.
“It is deeply concerning that at present there are more than 100 areas (over 50%) across NI, including 25 of our cities and main towns where sewage and wastewater infrastructure has little or no capacity left. By 2027 it is expected that another 30 towns will reach capacity making it almost impossible to build new housing or business premises and adding another layer to the issue of NI’s housing shortage. The current situation is also having an adverse impact on our local environment, with sewer flooding and increased pollution becoming a real risk.
“NI is the only UK region where the water utility is not funded to the levels that are required by its independent regulator and Alliance calls again for mutualisation of NI Water to be considered, as has been successfully done in Wales.
“The present governance model for NI Water and the continuous uncertainty around funding leading to inefficient capital investment means that NI’s water and wastewater infrastructure is under huge threat. Continued prevarication over this issue will, without doubt, be hugely detrimental to development in Northern Ireland severely impacting upon our economy, housebuilding and environment.”